In the instant matter of Angaraju v. State of Karnataka, The incident began in 2015 when the victim’s brother discovered her corpse with her neck slit given that her clothing was all over the place, it was assumed that she had also been raped. The Police reported the incident, started their inquiries, and detained the accused-appellant before the case was brought before the Sessions Court. The Sessions Judge concluded that the victim was first murdered by the accused-appellant as she was walking home from her computer class. The accused-appellant raped the victim after the murder. The Penal Code of 1860’s Sections 376 and 302 resulted in the conviction of the accused-appellant. The Sessions Judge’s contested decision was subsequently contested before the High Court.
Whether rape on a woman’s corpse is subject to Section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860
Observation of the Court
According to the Division Bench of Justice B. Veerappa and Justice Venkatesh Naik of the Karnataka High Court, committing rape on a woman who has passed away cannot be considered rape under Section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860. The same would, however, be regarded as necrophilia.
The Court stated that a dead body’s dignity must be preserved and honoured. The right to life, which goes beyond just animal existence, is emphasised in Article 21 of the Constitution, and the right to dignity extends to the deceased. Although a dead person is not considered to be a person under the law, they nevertheless have certain rights that are inalienable long after their body has stopped functioning. The term “person” should not be interpreted narrowly because doing so would deprive the dead body of its dignity as a person. Article 21 of the Constitution imposes duties on the State.
The Court also made a melancholy comment on news stories that highlighted the desecration of dead bodies by containing them or utilizing them to disrupt protests and traffic, among other things. The Court also made the grisly comment that those who keep dead bodies in mortuaries frequently engage in necrophilia. Additionally, because there is no particular statute, despicable deeds against dead bodies like the one done in the current situation continue to occur with no consequences. Despite the fact that necrophilia is an unnatural sexual conduct that should be covered under Section 377 IPC, the term “dead body” is not included in the clause. The court noted that a number of foreign nations, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Canada, already have laws that specifically recognise and punish necrophilia. The Court further recommended the Central Government consider addressing “necrophilia” either by amending Section 377, Penal Code 1860 or by introducing a specific penal provision for the same.